First year law students Saman Golestan and Daniel Hughes were unsuccessful in reclaiming the annual Jenckes Cup against UA at the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law Great Hall on Friday.
The Jenckes Cup, named for UA alumnus Joseph S. Jenckes, is a competition in which each team is given 35 minutes to present closing arguments as either the defense or prosecution for a predetermined case.
“The cup was both more stressful and more work than I anticipated,” Hughes said. “However, I enjoyed getting to see the full transcript of a trial and getting all the great advice we received on how to approach giving an oral argument.”
Despite their loss, Golestan said he is satisfied with the results. Both he and Hughes are freshmen law students, while the UA team was comprised of two third-year law students.
Golestan had the opportunity to speak with one of the judges following the competition.
“He told me normally the deliberations take five minutes because it was very obvious who had the better closing argument,” Golestan said. “This time however, the panel deliberated for nearly 40 minutes and one of the judges told me it came down to only three or four votes.”
The selected case was a double homicide, which Golestan said he felt was better slanted for the prosecution’s success. UA chose to be prosecution following a coin toss.
ASU was coached by two local Phoenix attorneys, Shawn Aiken and Jimmy Cool.
Aiken, an ASU alumnus and two-time Jenckes Cup participant, spent nearly three hours each day during the two weeks prior to the competition helping both students, focusing mainly on developing the team’s argument and practicing their presentation.
“I just love helping the students out,” said Aiken. “(Their closing argument) was very well done and they took command of the Great Hall. The presentation was just outstanding.”
Golestan and Hughes had competed in two preliminary rounds against 38 other ASU law students to secure their spots.
Each individual presented a closing argument for a civil case involving personal injury, provided by the College of Law’s Moot Court, in a simulated trial environment.
Golestan said the cases provided to the competitors in the Jenckes Cup are based on real courtroom cases.
The competitors are not allowed to do outside research on the case and must rely solely on courtroom transcripts, evidence and witness testimonies from the actual case to form their closing arguments.
Both teams were given a roughly 800-page courtroom transcript two weeks prior to the final round of competition to prepare for their closing arguments.
This year’s Jenckes Cup case involved a young man who was being threatened by other men in his neighborhood.
After one of the men molested the defendant’s 3-year-old son and threatened to kill the defendant should he report the incident to the police, the defendant returned to the man’s house and proceeded to shoot and kill the two men who were involved in the incident.
“I thought stylistically, we had the better case,” Golestan said. “(The UA team) just had the facts to back them up and we really had to appeal to emotion.”
Both Golestan and Hughes plan to participate in the Jenckes competition next year.
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